Rock City Review: Checking in on Café 7181, Munching at the Pantry, Lunching at Leo’s

There’s a new coffee cart in Central Arkansas, and I’ve been waiting impatiently for it to get up and running. A few weeks ago, I found the teardrop trailer on Verizon’s campus. I was most anxious to try out the nitro cold brew option. Yes, you read correctly, the cart is truly fully equipped. At the suggestion of Stephen Kincaid, owner and head barista, I tried a nitro cold brew with a shot of Hawaiian salted caramel and skim milk. The result was a smooth, clean drink with the right amount of sweet. My only complaint is that Café 7181 services Saline county more regularly than Little Rock – but I suppose I could always drive a ways to satiate my new obsession. It’s that addicting.
If there is one thing that has staying power in the restaurant scene, it’s consistency. The Pantry has and continues to put out delicious Eastern European inspired food at both locations. Due to convenience, I find myself at the Pantry Crest more often than not. I made it out recently with a specific goal in mind: drinks.
Before I got to drinking, however, I ordered the bacon wrapped dates, one of my all-time favorite appetizer offerings in Little Rock, and they were on point. I also tried the homemade bratwurst to mix it up a bit from my typical order – the Wiener Schnitzel. The food was piping hot, seasoned just right and beautiful alongside my drink of the night – El Presidente. Ever since the Pantry introduced their summer drink menu I wanted to get my hands on this particular mezcal drink. I loved the smoky kick which was tapered by the citrusy grapefruit and lime. The drink is aptly described, as it is perfect for summer. I can’t wait to see what seasonal cocktails the Pantry puts out next.
My restaurant choices lately all point to one thing – I’ve been spending a lot of time in Hillcrest. One place I’m glad to see trucking along is Leo’s Greek Castle, a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. As a Rock City native, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one to grow up with a Leo’s gyro as the day’s promised dinner treat.
The thing is, I’m not sure it gets the attention it deserves because people expect authentic Greek food from it, when these days, it’s all about the diner feel. Lately, every time I go in, there’s a subtle change in the décor, be it a new lion painting or the removal of tablecloths.
As Leo’s gets an even more funkier aesthetic – its small space already gives it character enough – I’m glad to know that a few items have been left essentially unchanged. The lamb meat is unlike any other in town, juicily grilled and served alongside consistent taziki with onions.
Also, you just can’t beat that $0.75 PBR price. I don’t like choosing between breakfast or the gyro platter on my jaunts in, but that’s a decision I’m sure I’ll deliberate over time and time again.

Share on facebook

More Articles